Updated for 2017
Even if you don’t think about it often, you couldn’t live comfortably without your water heater. Imagine if we all had to take cold showers – no thank you!
So when it comes to maintaining that comfort, you have to give your water heater some TLC, especially when winter comes. If you want to make sure you’ll have hot water on those brisk -20 degree days, you’ll want to use these winter water heater tips.
What Can Winter Do to My Water Heater?
You’ve heard the horror stories about winter freezing and bursting a home’s pipes, but what can winter do to your water heater?
The water entering your home is coming from the outside, which means that the colder the temperature gets, the colder the water gets. This means your water heater has to work harder to heat it. This is also the time of year when you want your showers and bathes extra steamy.
This makes it extra-important that your water heater, regardless of make or model, is properly maintained and appropriately winterized.
Winter Water Heater Tips for Tanks
The following steps for you winter water heater checklist apply mainly to water tanks.
1. Flush it Out
Imagine never thoroughly rinsing and washing out a glass. Even if you keep using it, eventually build-up and sediment will form. Not pleasant, right?
Well that’s what happens in your water tank! Water has naturally occurring minerals that can cause sediment buildup. This sediment can be hard on your tank, and actually reduce its efficiency; that means more money on your energy bill each month.
That’s why we recommend flushing out your tank at least once a year. If you haven’t done it recently, make it a part of your winter water heater maintenance.
This is one of the steps you can do yourself. Simply turn off your water heater, let it cool, attach a hose to the drain valve and find a place to allow the water to drain, such as a bucket or outdoors in the yard. Make sure you open at least one hot water faucet in the home as you drain the tank.
If you don’t feel confident doing this, that’s okay! We’re more than happy to do it for you.
2. Check the Anode Rod
The anode rod goes hand in hand with sediment build up in your tank. It’s purpose is to collect any corrosive elements in the water that may eat away at the lining of your tank. Think of it like a magnet that pulls those materials away from the sides of your tank.
Constantly attracting corrosive materials is hard on an anode rod, and causes it to break down over time. If your tank is 2-3 years old, we recommend having it checked annually by a professional. If it has pieces missing, calcium coverings, or is less than ½ inch thick, it’ll be replaced.
3. Insulate Older Tanks
Older tanks just aren’t as efficient as a newer tank, and sometimes they can’t hold heat as well as they used to. When the cold temperatures hit it, it makes it even harder.
You can purchase fibreglass insulation ‘blankets’ for your tank so that it stays nice and snug, and your morning shower doesn’t suffer.
Be careful: Make sure to keep the blanket away from the flue duct.
You can also get pipe insulation to cover any exposed pipes – this is a particularly good idea if you live in home where pipes are susceptible to freeze.
4. Check the Pressure Release Valve
For many of us, our pressure release is our first cup of coffee in the morning. For a water tank, it’s an actual pressure release valve.
This is what keeps your water tank from bursting, and as winter is a time for burst plumbing, it’s a good idea to make this a part of your winter water heater checklist.
It’s easy enough to do; you lift the lever on top of the valve two or three times in a row and check for any leaks. You should hear water or a faint hiss when you open it. If you don’t, it needs to be replaced immediately.
Again, if you’re not sure this is a job for you, give us a call and book an appointment for winter water heater maintenance.
Winter Tankless Water Heater Tips
No list would be complete without winter water heater tips for tankless models.
1. Have it De-scaled
Much like draining and flushing out your water tank, you tankless water heater will need to be de-scaled. It also experiences that build up of sediment and calcium which wears, tears, and causes loss of heating efficiency.
Tankless water heaters are a little trickier to clean out, which is why we recommend leaving this to us.
We mentioned it once, but it’s important enough to mention again. Proper insulation will play a big role in keeping the heat in, particularly if your tankless water heater is installed outside. While many models have ‘freeze protection’, which protects the actual system, the pipes do not, which means you should take extra care that they’re properly insulated.
If you’re not sure how to go about insulating your tankless water heater, you should call a professional for a maintenance appointment and to help winterize your system.
Set the Temperature to 120 Degrees Fahrenheit
We’ve all had that moment of surprise mixed with pain when we’ve been touched by scalding hot water. It’s not fun. So now is the perfect time to make a slight temperature adjustment.
120 degrees Fahrenheit is the best temperature to have your water heater set at. It is the right temperature for all your household needs, and having it at this slightly lower temperature will actually save you a bit of money on heating!
We’ll Help You Winterize Your Water Heater
Preparing for winter can be a long, hard job. Let us make that job a little easier by handling your water heater.